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Toronto, Ont. – Unions representing most Ontario long-term care workers announced today they were withdrawing from the implementation team being led by Shirlee Sharkey under the auspices of the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care.

 “The McGuinty government promised a ‘revolution’ in long-term care, but all residents are getting is more spin,” says Candace Rennick, Second Vice-President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.  “We  jointly announce today that the major front-line unions are pulling out of this process that will not result in measureable, enforceable and provincially consistent standards of care.  If the Sharkey staffing model is adopted, Ontario will continue to lag behind other provinces with no guarantee that dollars intended for front line care will actually reach the bedside.”

Leaving the Sharkey long-term care process are front-line workers represented by CUPE Ontario, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1 Canada, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) and the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW).  All share the same frustration and concern that the process will not deliver improved care, let alone a ‘revolution’.  With enforceable care and staffing standards off the Sharkey table, the unions are walking away.

SEIU Local 1 Canada is all in favour of residents and their families having a stronger voice in the decisions that affect their daily lives in nursing homes, but since the committee can only make staffing decisions based on present funding levels, committee decisions will amount to nothing more than recommendations,” says Sharleen Stewart, President of SEIU Local 1 Canada. “If we take away three minutes of total care area from Mrs. Smith we will be able to allocate three more minutes of care per day to Mrs. Jones.  It is a zero-sum game that simply does not address the problem of nursing home residents requiring more care.”

OPSEU is concerned that without an enforceable staffing standard, municipalities that are being squeezed financially are going to cut their supplementary funding to the Homes for the Aged, resulting in fewer staff,” says Patty Rout, OPSEU First Vice-President.  “We can’t fight the economic downturn on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens.”

Why does Ontario have strong regulations in place around staffing care standards for daycare nurseries, but nothing for vulnerable frail seniors in long-term care?” asks Katha Fortier, CAW Director of Health Care.  “Ontario seniors have contributed to the fabric of the economy for all of their lives and absolutely deserve quality care in the times of their lives where they are most vulnerable.
We will continue our fight for care standards, that will make a measurable difference in the lives of those who are entrusted to our care.” 

For more information please contact:

Candace Rennick, Second Vice-President, CUPE Ontario, cell 705 768 2288
Barry Smith, Communications, SEIU Local 1 Canada, cell 416 528- 9116
Patty Rout, First Vice-President, OPSEU, 416 443 8888
Katha Fortier, CAW Director of Health Care, cell 519 259 8100
David Robbins, CUPE Communications, cell 613 878 1431